This is a report
that outlines some of the Language Immersion programs and the results.
If you are interested, at all, in saving language, this report is
Native American language immersion schools and projects are
the focus of this study. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation supported
this analysis, to describe and analyze this innovative Native Education
for children and families. A people's initiative, Native American
language immersion encompasses educational practices and social
development that lie outside the mainstream language teaching, education
and socialization methods of American children. Native American
language immersion programs are characterized by Native ways of
knowing, learning and indigenous knowledge. Native American organizers
demonstrate a profound faith in the traditional Native grandparents'
role and their methods in language development, teaching and learning.
Curriculum content and context rely on the rich Native American
knowledge bases and their eminent scholars --- tribal elders and
tribal land, resources. Language immersions activists and educators
share two characteristics in common: fluency in the tribal language
and an unstoppable commitment and devotion to language preservation
among children and youth.
Native language immersion schools have remarkable benefits:
students show impressive educational achievement, participants demonstrate
considerable language knowledge gains in relatively short periods
of time, programs contribute significantly to family strength, and
college students---adult learners are retained as a positive correlate
with language and culture learning. Each of these potentials have
importance for tribes, agencies and organizers (both Native and
non-Native) who interact or hope to interact positively and significantly
with Native Americans in areas of educational and community development.
Creativity and unique qualities characterize the language immersion
approaches, and are especially reflective of the tribes and their
The Native American language immersion activities now number
approximately fifty sites. This count comes from correspondence
and language immersion educators/activists interviews. The Piegan
Institute convened Native language immersion educators and activists
(2000 and 2001) attended by representatives from eight sites. The
Learning Lodge Institute (a project of Montana's seven tribal colleges)
and Northern Arizona University of Flagstaff, also assembled language
immersion educators and activists. The Indiana University published
language revitalization studies authored by tribal language preservation
site organizers and teachers. The Tribal College Journal devoted
an entire issue to language preservation and immersion projects
and programs in the tribal colleges and universities. The U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services has a division of the Administration
for Native Americans, the "Native Language Projects."
From these sources, it is estimated that active Native language
immersion sites (schools, camps, and retreats) number fifty.